Now a junior, Sweat turning up the heat on FSU's defensive ends

Ryan S. Clark, Lead Beat Writer

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Florida State won't start the 2017 football season for another five-plus months, yet junior Josh Sweat already understands what's at stake.

Sweat said after Monday's practice the team's defensive ends -- while talented -- are still young. If the group can succeed despite its inexperience, it could result in a big year for the program.

If not, the results could compromise FSU's College Football Playoff bid.

"If it doesn't go well in our group, I don't think we can get it done this year," Sweat said. "We have a lot of young guys. I'm not even a senior myself, and I gotta move up to that leadership role. Maybe not as vocal, but I'm trying to keep the room together because we're trying to teach a lot of people.

"I mean, I think we're coming along really well. I think spring is coming along really well."

The defensive ends are coming off of a big season in 2016. The group anchored a pass rush that finished first in the nation with 3.92 sacks per game and second with 51 total sacks. Alabama, which averaged 3.60 sacks across 15 games, led the nation with 54 sacks.

One concern FSU faces is replacing DeMarcus Walker, who now is preparing for the NFL Draft. Walker accounted for 16 sacks alone -- it was the second most in the nation behind Boston College's Harold Landry.

FSU enters the offseason trying to find a way to replace Walker both from a position and a production standpoint.

"Those guys flash at you at times," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said of the defensive ends after Monday's practice. "You're coaching on the run and we'll look at them on film. But they flash at you."

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